The Epicurious Wanderers!

On the road to Melaya

Tues 14 Jan
The last time I was in Bali was 9 years ago and at that time Helen and I enjoyed a very relaxing time lazing by the pool sipping on cocktails and reading. This trip is very different. I’m here with a group of work colleagues to visit one of the orphanages that our School has a relationship with. When I say visit may I should clarify that a little, we will be working at the orphanage to improve things for the kids that call it home.

I arrived yesterday and along with Jackie, from work, made the slow trek through immigration at Bali airport. Well I made the slow trek, Jackie discovered that if you just wander through the Working Visa gate no one seems to mind. A thought for next time maybe. After that it was a taxi journey to our hotel in Sanur, Maison Aurelia, a great place for a few cold beers while we discussed with the rest of the group what the next 10 days held in store for us. Of course these discussions extend to dinner of suckling pig and all the condiments.

The road trip started with a stop at Lotte Mart to buy supplies for the orphanage. We loaded the van up with cooking oil, noodles, rice and milk. All basic items that kids need. After that it was on the road for the drive to Melaya. As usual traffic in this part of the world can be a little crazy. As we ventured west the country side opened up, the buildings lessened and rural Bali began to show it’s beauty. The rice paddies and glimpses of the ocean are quite breathtaking at times.

A few hours in and it’s time for a lunch stop at a little roadside place Brendon visits every trip. You could tell straight up the food should be good by how busy the place is. We started with a crisp refreshing iced tea and then had the most amazing local chicken dish. Tender spicy chicken on rice with a range of sides and a spicy red sambal. Oh my goodness, lip tingling goodness. As we climbed back in the vans the girls had a surprise in theirs, a minor infestation of ants. Not the best thing on a road trip. Michelle was not impressed, so Brendon being a gentleman swapped vans with her.

We completed our journey with a quick stop to buy rice for the orphanage then made the final turn off the main road. I’m not 100% sure what I’d been expecting, between Brendon and Aline I was a little confused. What did greet us was amazing, the staff were so welcoming and the site itself so serene. After a brief welcome and look at our accommodation for the next week is so we waited for the kids to get home from school. As each group arrived they greeted us with huge smiles and gentle handshakes. It was so beautiful, very humbling. Nothing anyone had said prepared me for their welcomes.

After the kids returned we headed back to our rooms to discuss the coming days. An inspection of the proposed chick coup revealed an asbestos roof that needs removing, not a job we want to tackle. Apparently though the builder will sort this tomorrow, hopefully he takes appropriate health measures. We also looked at what needs painting in the boy’s dorms, ceilings and a wall in each. This to be sorted room by room while the boys are at school.

After some chill out time it was down to the dining hall for bible study and dinner. As with teenagers around the globe to boys took up station on inside of the area with the girls sitting opposite. The bible study itself was lead by on of the girls and comprised alternate readings and songs. You don’t need to understand the language to feel the devotion, it was again humbling and their singing is just breathtaking. Then they had a surprise for us, some the girls had prepared a welcome dance accompanied boy the boys playing the gamelan. At the end they presented us each with a flower behind the ear. Truly humbling, it brought a tear to my eye it was so moving.

Dinner was prepared for us by some of the girls, a mix of rice, vegetables and chicken with a spicy sambal. Over dinner we chatted, as best we could, with the kids. They are so patient and found our attempts at Indonesian very humorous at times. Some of the girls have apparently adopted me as kakek or grandfather, I feel truly blessed

More as it happens. Selemat malam.

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